The Tree of Knowledge
Only those who have acquired good karma through the good works of many incarnations are drawn to the path of Kriya Yoga. They are blessed who have learned this technique. It requires eight million incarnations in lower life-forms before the soul gains birth in the unique human body. Even after attaining human form, if the consciousness becomes very animalistic and filled with evil, it will surely retrogress to an animal form again for an incarnation. From where do the souls come to incarnate in human form? They have evolved through mineral, plant, and the lower to higher forms of animal life. The population of humankind is continually replenished from this upward evolution of souls. Only the human being is endowed with the capacity to express the innate Divinity. It is a sacrilege, therefore, to misuse this human instrument of the soul. Kriya hastens the spiritual awakening of the soul in man.
Kriya Yoga is to be learned from a true guru, one who has realized God through Kriya. When practised according to the guru’s instructions and with his blessings, the technique lifts the consciousness of the devotee through the subtle cerebrospinal chakras into God-realization. If the sadhaka does not realize God in one lifetime through Kriya Yoga, he carries the good effect of his practice into the next incarnation and is drawn again to the Kriya path. The karma with which a being is born is called sahaja karma. Thus, the sahaja karma of Kriya Yogis is the spiritual advancement they have acquired from the practice of the sacred Kriya technique in their previous life, and a natural tendency to make rapid progress in Kriya in this new incarnation.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna says: “O Arjuna! In whatever way people are devoted to Me, in that measure (according to their desire, their degree of understanding, and their manner of worship) I manifest myself to them. All men, regardless of their mode of seeking, pursue a path to Me” (IV: 11). The ways of worshipping God are many: nama kirtana (chanting His name); mala japa (reciting prayers on beads); abhyasa yoga (repeatedly bringing the mind back to its point of concentration in meditation); Kriya Yoga, and so on. Sri Ramakrishna said that all religions, all true paths, lead to God. This is indeed so; but some roads are long, some are short. If you wish to go to Kashmir, you could take a bullock cart, a horse carriage, a car, a train, or a plane. The plane is the fastest. This is why I call Kriya Yoga the “airplane route” to God.
No matter how full of worldly restlessness the ungoverned mind has become, through Kriya Yoga practice it can be purified and brought under control. Why is this control necessary? God does not accept the remains of an offering that has already been tasted. When the devotee indulges in desires and then offers to God the little devotion that is left, God will not respond. How then does Kriya Yoga purify the mind that is filled with the desires of incarnations? Centered within the cerebrospinal axis is the subtle sushumna passage from the muladhara to the sahasrara. On either side of the sushumna are the nadis (subtle channels) called ida and pingala.
In waking consciousness, during which the mind and energy are directed outward into the world of matter, the life current flows down the spine and out through the chakras to the senses and all the organs and nerves of the body. This outflowing causes attraction to and desire for material things. During the practice of the guru-given technique of Kriya Yoga, the spine becomes magnetized and draws the life current inward along the ida and pingala and into the sushumna to ascend this subtle channel through each of the chakras, awakening spiritual consciousness in man. All thoughts, consciousness itself become interiorized and centered in God. The devotee experiences joy and knowledge beyond all expression. Sadhus in the Himalayas meditate bare-bodied, sitting on the ice. How can they do this? They are able to withdraw their consciousness from the sensations of the body.
The Gita passage that states, “Indeed, neither the devas (gods) nor the danavas (titans) know the infinite modes of Thine appearances,” is usually erroneously interpreted to mean that knowledge or perception of God is beyond our capacity. It is possible to become one with Brahman, and then one shall know what Brahman knows. All things finite have a limit, but Divine love is never-ending. The more you feel this Love, the more you will be intoxicated with its Joy. This Joy knows no bounds. It is ever new, ever increasing. Slowly, gradually, the realization of this Bliss comes, until at last the God-realized soul totally merges with Him in the ecstasy of Satchitananda: ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new Bliss. Such souls need never again incarnate in this troublesome world. They remain for eternity immersed in the Supreme Bliss.
Many thoughts are constantly vibrating in our consciousness. When we sit to meditate, we find the mind clouded with this restlessness. Soon individual thoughts stand out, like the particles of dirt settling out of the water. But just because you become aware of these thoughts, don’t think you are becoming more restless! Wait patiently. Continue to practice Kriya resolutely. In time those thoughts will settle and your consciousness will clear of all restlessness. After practicing Kriya, sit long in meditation to enjoy the peace and the bliss produced by Kriya. To get up immediately after Kriya is like kicking over the pail and spilling the milk you have just drawn from the cow.
Excerpts from ‘Discourses of Paramahansa Yogananda’
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